Bilateral subthalamic nucleus stimulation does not improve prolonged P300 latencies in Parkinson's disease
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Bilateral deep brain stimulation is an effective treatment for most motor signs of Parkinson's disease (PD), but the effects on cognitive functions are less clear. We therefore examined the effects of bilateral deep brain stimulation on central information processing, using the event-related auditory P300 potential as an electrophysiological index of mental chronometry. Eight PD patients with bilateral stimulators within the subthalamic nuclei (STN) and eight age-matched controls participated. Patients were examined after overnight withdrawal of antiparkinson medication, both “on” and “off” stimulation (in random sequence). The P300 and reaction times were recorded using an auditory oddball paradigm. P300 latencies were prolonged in PD patients off stimulation (440 ± 45 ms) compared to controls (397 ± 16 ms; P < 0.05). STN stimulation significantly reduced clinical disease severity (as indexed by the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale) and markedly improved reaction times, but did not improve the prolonged P300 latencies in PD patients (429 ± 36 ms). These results confirm that P300 latencies are prolonged in PD. Significantly, bilateral STN stimulation did not improve this electrophysiological measure of cognitive impairment, even though motor disability was markedly reduced. This suggests that some dopa-responsive features are resistant to STN stimulation, possibly due to involvement of dopaminergic deficits outside the nigrostriatal pathway, which are not influenced by outflow from the STN.
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